Deadwood on the Hudson

tobias seamonWriting at The Morning News, Tobias Seamon has been chronicling the history of Henry Hudson's famous 1609 voyage -- though this version is probably a little more colorful than the one you already know:

Reading the publicity attached to the quadricentennial leaves readers deluged with cheery keynotes like tolerance, diversity, religious freedom, and melting pot. It'd be unfair to categorize the publicity blitz as a whitewashing of the colonial Dutch record, but still, the realities of these settlements were often much more violent than portrayed. Fort Orange and Manhattan's New Amsterdam, which was capital of New Netherland, were hardly gems of the Dutch mercantile empire. Rather, they were frontier settlements whose chief governors were a series of drunkards, swindlers, war-mongering incompetents, and myopic tyrants.

The title of the series: "Deadwood on the Hudson." Part two was posted today.

Seamon is an Albany native. He wrote a piece for TMN called "Albany, Counting the Ways" back in 2003. From that essay:

Albany, where the streets aren't numbered. Rather, most of the streets are named after birds. For blocks and blocks, Eagle, then Dove, then Quail, and so on. One bird after another. If you ever get lost in Albany, try to remember the last bird you passed.

image: The Morning News


For a great history and good read (really) on New Amsterdam, check out Russell Shorto's "The Island at the Center of the World." There's also a Web site:

"Albany, Counting the Ways" was one of the most snide pieces I've ever read. Being irreverent is one thing, but cheap shots like calling state workers "bureaucratic robots," or suggesting all the legislators and college students are drunks isn't even clever. Just kind of sophmoric. Hopefully Seamon's historical take on Albany has more originality (and research), but it looks derivative and based on the work of other historians and writers.

Island at the Center of the World was recommended to me and it's on my shelf waiting to be read. I think I'm going to make it next on my "must read" list.

Although it's out of print, another Dutch history book that's just as fun and readable as Shorto's is Henry and Barbara Van der Zee's A Sweet and Alien Land, published by Viking in 1978. Actually has a lot more stuff about Ft Orange/Albany area than Island at the Center of World. Another must read for anyone interested in colonial Dutch history, Amazon might have links to used copies .

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Stuff to do this weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend. The official unofficial kickoff to the summer season. There are plenty of picnics, barbecues, and just general hanging out to do,... (more)

Working out the design of the Albany Skyway

The Albany Skyway project is continuing to move forward, and this week the engineering team heading up the design work presented a few potential concepts... (more)

First house on the street

History + houses + maps = this chronicle of house building in Niskayuna by Guy Spiers. It's remarkable to see how house were clustered in... (more)

Collar City Candle Craft + Draft BBQ at Lansing Farm

This is something a little different and summery: Collar City Candle is hosting a Craft + Draft BBQ event at Lansing Farm in Colonie Sunday,... (more)

There's another rail trail public art project this summer, and the call for artists is open

We mentioned this in the rail trail post this week, but it's worth highlighting: The call for artists is currently open for the next public... (more)

Recent Comments

I frequently find myself along this trail on Sunday mornings, hungry, & very little is open. There's a lot of talk about special mowers & building bathrooms & that's nice, yes, let's do that, certainly. But *right now* people using this trail are hungry & want to buy food & drink (& use the bathroom, as a paying customer): if the businesses that are already there were OPEN it would go a long way to providing amenities & destinations. ...

The Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail is set to get a new paved section this summer, and a few more bits about its future

...has 11 comments, most recently from Zed F

Recycled robots

...has 1 comment, most recently from Herbert

Working out the design of the Albany Skyway

...has 2 comments, most recently from Jeff D

Civil War walking tour of Albany Rural Cemetery

...has 4 comments, most recently from Amy

What qualifies as the Capital Region?

...has 1 comment, most recently from jsc